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Old 02-21-2013, 12:40 PM   #1
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'Borderline high' - what does it mean?

I recently went to my doctor because I was suffering from palpitations. I've had these before, a few years ago, but my heart checked out OK then. The doctor sent me for blood tests, including thyroid function. When I got the results I was told that this was 'borderline high' and I've been asked to go for a repeat test in three months.

I've put on weight in the last twelve months, having been the same weight up to now for a number of years. But otherwise I seem to have a few symptoms of hyperthyroidism, including anxiety and a general feeling of 'jitteriness' and irritability at times. I also get double vision sometimes, if only briefly, when I've been bending my head to focus on something I'm reading and then look up. (I mentioned this to a doctor about a year ago and was told it was a kind of 'postural vertigo'.) I'm sleeping less than I used to, and often wake up in the early hours and find it hard to get back to sleep. The palpitations sometimes keep me awake, or I wake up from a dream with my heart pounding.

I'm seeing the doctor again next week with a view to getting something to ease the palpitations, and will ask more questions about the blood tests. In the meantime I would be grateful for any information anyone here can offer.

Thanks!

 
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Old 02-21-2013, 01:55 PM   #2
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Re: 'Borderline high' - what does it mean?

"Borderline high" is an imprecise term, because it can be interpreted two ways.
It might mean "borderline high" TSH, which would indicate low thyroid function.
Or it might mean "borderline high" thyroid function, which is the opposite problem.

TSH is a pituitary hormone that's at best, an indirect indication of thyroid status. It's not all that great shakes for a thyroid test, even though med students are taught that it's the be-all, end-all of the lot. But, since the TSH test was developed, two other definitive tests to measure the free levels of the actual thyroid hormones have been developed. Since free T4 and free T3 can be directly and accurately measured, it's the hope of thyroid patients all over the world that the TSH test will be outlawed! (Well, we can hope, can't we?)

If, in your case, your MD means that your actual thyroid hormones are "borderline high", that would mean you are hyperthyroid. If he's talking about TSH, you are hypOthyroid. The symptoms can, at times, be startling similar. I had numerous, frequent heart rhythm irregularities when I was hypoT. But of course, those can be seen in most cases of hyperT, as well.

Without knowing the actual thyroid function tests you had and their numerical results, it would be hard for any of us to guess exactly what condition you're dealing with. You should ask for a written copy of your results when you see the doctor next time. You can post them with their lab ranges here if you want input about them.

I personally wouldn't take anything for the symptoms alone without knowing which condition I have. Thyroid disease can almost always be corrected at the root level without resorting to Big Pharma cure-alls to "treat" symptoms. Why treat symptoms if the disease itself can be corrected?

Let us know what happens.
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Old 02-21-2013, 02:05 PM   #3
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Re: 'Borderline high' - what does it mean?

Thanks for your reply. I have begun to realise how complicated all this is! The tests I am to have next time are TSH and 'TSH not on T4'. I have no idea what the latter is, despite extensive googling. Plenty of questions for my next appointment I think!

 
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Old 02-28-2013, 02:41 PM   #4
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Re: 'Borderline high' - what does it mean?

Just to update, I saw a different doctor today who told me that my TSH is slightly high and T4 is 'normal'. She seemed to think that this was nothing to worry about, suggested that the palpitations might be due to anxiety and prescribed Sertraline. I do suffer from anxiety, but I am currently experiencing palpitations when even I am calm and at rest. (And having read the possible side-effects of Sertraline I think I'll give them a miss.) It looks like I will have to wait and see what the results of the next blood tests are in three months time. In the meantime, I've a feeling I've simply been diagnosed with Neurotic Middle-Aged Woman Syndrome!

 
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Old 03-01-2013, 09:44 AM   #5
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Re: 'Borderline high' - what does it mean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by roseanne View Post
The tests I am to have next time are TSH and 'TSH not on T4'. I have no idea what the latter is, despite extensive googling.
The test might be "TSH with reflex to FT4". That just means they test only for TSH and then test for FT4 only if TSH comes back out of range. This is not adequate! You absolutely need a free T4 in addition to the TSH. Insist upon it.

Never accept the word of a doctor who tells you your thyroid tests are "normal" without giving you the actual numerical result with lab range. Almost everyone's T4/T3 falls in the normal range, but that doesn't mean the levels are their "normal". Always, always, ALWAYS get your own copy of the labwork, and try to learn the basics of how to interpret it.

Let us know what the next round says.
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Last edited by midwest1; 03-01-2013 at 09:45 AM.

 
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Old 03-03-2013, 01:39 AM   #6
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Re: 'Borderline high' - what does it mean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by roseanne View Post
In the meantime, I've a feeling I've simply been diagnosed with Neurotic Middle-Aged Woman Syndrome!
I hear you. I had the problem ten years ago, I hadn't been sick so never went to the doctor, since the doctor couldn't easily figure out what was wrong, he just assumed I was a whiner. Probably didn't help that a lot of his patients seemed to be grossly obese women with obvious cardiovascular problems, and I was a skinny 40 year old man.

My advice, is don't get married to a diagnosis. Doctors do this too in reverse, they assume maybe it's something, run a lab test for that something and when that doesn't pan out, they assume that the test proves you're okay.

I think heart palpitations are tricky because a _a lot_ of things can cause that.

PS: I'm assuming menopause is over and done for you.

 
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Old 03-03-2013, 09:13 AM   #7
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Re: 'Borderline high' - what does it mean?

Thanks for your replies. Yes, I know I should have asked for the actual results - I guess I was just glad to hear the doc say 'normal' and she wasn't really wanting at all to discuss the results with me, as far as she was concerned they were 'nothing to worry about'. But I do see what you mean about needing to interpret the numbers correctly. Note to self to be more assertive when the next lot of tests are done!

I agree doctors seem to make too many assumptions, based on minimal information, and then lead the patient into proving their own diagnosis. In my case, in the absence of any other symptoms to explain my palpitations, the easy choice was 'anxiety'. I will be having a 24 hour heart monitor in a couple of weeks anyway, so will wait to see what the results of that are.

Thanks again for your help.

 
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Old 03-03-2013, 09:23 AM   #8
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Re: 'Borderline high' - what does it mean?

Hi there,

That's funny that someone mentionned menopause. I have hypothyroid before and then had a thyroidectomy because of cancer. I was fine but lately had to call the Endo because I was feeling the effects of anxiety without any reason. I would wake up with it in the night. I could be fine and next minute feel anxious for no reason. I wondered if it was part of menopause. She put me on 162mcg of Synthroid when my Tsh was 3.3. that brought me at 0.15. So now because of the feeling of anxiety she alternately put me on one day of 150 and one day on 162mcg of Synthroid. I heard that it is not the menopause that causes the anxiety but because of the low estrogen it causes lack of sleep and irratibility etc... that causes the anxiety. Any one know about this?

Smileyhappy

 
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